Your CEO Has Three Jobs: Are You Evaluating Only One of Them?

assessment ceo May 23, 2022

 

In Leadership is an Art, Max de Pree, the former CEO of Herman Miller, describes this act of leadership as “liberating people to do what is required of them, in the most effective and humane way possible.”

 

But what is required of your Chief Executive Officer or Executive Director, how do you know and how do you assess their work?

 

Certainly, the Board will have approved an annual work plan for the CEO, with major projects, goals and objectives outlined. One assumes that such a plan will incorporate at least oversight for implementation of the strategic plan if not actual work to be done.

 

So far, so good.

 

And how are these work plans reflected in the annual review or assessment of your CEO?

 

My research with Chief Executive Officers and Executive Directors suggests that there are three major components to their work, each taking about one-third of their time. But boards typically consider only one of these in their assessments.

 

You need to have this discussion…

 

Most CEOs suggest that about one-third of their time is spent leading the organization or agency, about one-third working with and supporting the Board and about one-third in the community, developing profiles and partnerships.


But too many assessments focus on only one-third of the work, the third that the Board can see and experience, namely working with them.

 

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Now, most boards do not believe that a CEO could possibly spend as much as a third of their time working with them. But consider the parameters. Meeting regularly with the Chair. Preparing the agenda with the Chair. Preparing the support material. Responding to individual Board member requests. Dealing with Board member drop-ins. Supporting the work of committees. Appearing with the Chair at community events. Listening to Board members’ concerns and complaints. You get the idea. Some even go far beyond one-third of their time.

 

How do you assess the leadership of the organization as a whole? The actual operations?

 

How do you assess community development, and the engagement with existing and potential partners to enhance outcomes? How is your CEO perceived by service groups to which they belong as individuals yet are also representing you and your interests?

 

We quite rightly assess initiatives, projects, and newer areas of endeavour, and ensure that “ongoing” and “continuing” efforts are not in our strategic plans as these are part of the workday, part of the culture.

 

But this ongoing work is a key component of any CEO’s responsibility and needs to be considered, not necessarily every year, but certainly every five years and before any contract renewal or bonus.

 

If you are only evaluating one-third of the work, whether formally or informally, you are missing out on significant insights and potential room for growth and development.

 

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